Earth Day Special: Algae Fuel and Green Dining

dining

For Earth Week this year, Green Liaisons again hosted two great speakers: UD scientist Dr. Jennifer Stewart and UD Dining Representative Ryan Boyer. The lunch took place on April 18th.

Dr. Stewart spoke about her research under the school’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment that seeks to make algae-based biofuels a viable source of renewable energy.

Algae, like corn and sugarcane, is an organic matter that can be converted into a “biofuel” capable of replacing gasoline. It is thought to be preferable to such food crop biofuels, as it offers the advantage of producing more fuel per acre and requiring no farmland for growth.

Algae could be made even more beneficial by feeding it carbon dioxide (CO2) captured from smokestack emissions. This would reduce the amount of CO2 released to the atmosphere and subsequently reduce climate change.

Stewart is investigating a way to enable the algae to use this CO2 for increased growth while simultaneously absorbing the nitric oxide also found in the emissions. Nitric oxide would otherwise be harmful to algae.

She aims to breed a strain of algae that would treat the excess nitrogen as a nutrient rather than as a toxin, so that it would grow faster and consume more CO2.

The second speaker, Ryan Boyer, the District Marketing Manager for Dining Services, shared with us the latest environmental initiatives being implemented in the university’s new Caesar Rodney Dining Hall.

These initiatives fall under the umbrella of Dining Services’s new Green Thread program, which focuses on responsible sourcing (such as purchasing locally, moving to cage-free eggs, and looking out for animal welfare), efficient operations (such as increasing water conservation and improving green cleaning practices), and waste minimization (such as increasing recycling, introducing tray-less dining, and streamlining the to-go container system).

In addition, Dining has been adding other initiatives to improve their environmental footprint, like the weekly Farmers’ Market, Sustainable Fish Friday, and RecycleMania.

If you would like to learn more about either of these topics, please check out the talks here!

Comments are closed.